Hanoi urges quick action by Cairo over tour bus bombing

Egypt's Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli (second from far right) visiting one of the victims of the tour bus attack at a hospital in Al-Haram district in Giza last Friday. The attack came as Egypt's tourism sector has begun to recover after years of i
Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli (second from far right) visiting one of the victims of the tour bus attack at a hospital in Al-Haram district in Giza last Friday. The attack came as Egypt’s tourism sector has begun to recover after years of instability and militant violence that scared visitors away. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Egypt's Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli (second from far right) visiting one of the victims of the tour bus attack at a hospital in Al-Haram district in Giza last Friday. The attack came as Egypt's tourism sector has begun to recover after years of i
The tourist bus which was attacked being towed away last Friday from the scene in Giza province. The bus was carrying holidaymakers from Vietnam as it travelled near the Pyramids of Giza near Cairo. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Vietnam, whose citizens died in blast, also calls for unity to fight terrorism

HANOI/GIZA (Egypt) • Vietnam is calling on the Egyptian government to act fast to find and punish those responsible for the terror attack which claimed the lives of three tourists and their Egyptian guide, its foreign ministry spokesman said yesterday.

A roadside bombing last Friday ripped through a busload of holidaymakers from Vietnam as it travelled near the Pyramids of Giza near Cairo.

Mr Le Thi Thu Hang, a spokesman for Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Vietnam is also calling on governments and their people to stand united in the fight against terrorism in an uncompromising way to build a peaceful life and to ensure safe travel for people around the world.

Saigon Tourist, the company that organised the trip, said the tourists were "on their way to a restaurant for dinner" when the bomb went off. Eleven other tourists and their Egyptian bus driver were wounded.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc had sent his deepest condolences to the families of the victims.

One of the victims has been named as 46-year-old Nguyen Thuy Quynh, who was travelling with her husband, Mr Le Duc Minh. He suffered injuries to his hand, according to the Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper.

Meanwhile, crowds of tourists were seen staring in awe at the world-famous attraction last Saturday, undaunted by the nearby bomb attack a day earlier.

The attack comes as Egypt's vital tourism sector has begun to recover after years of instability and militant violence that scared visitors away.

"I think terrorism can strike anywhere in the world," Ms Somand Yang from South Korea said. "You have to be careful but it is also like luck."

Security forces guarded the entrance to the sprawling site and Ms Yang, 32, said she had no qualms about visiting.

"Lightning never strikes twice in the same place. So I figured it will be even safer today," she said.

Excited holidaymakers rode camels and queued to enter a tomb as they snapped pictures of the Great Pyramid, the only surviving structure of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

 
 
 

Hawkers followed the tourists, doggedly trying to sell trinkets and souvenirs.

Despite the steady flow of visitors, Egyptians working at the site said they were shaken by the attack - and concerned that it could hit their livelihoods.

"I knew the guide who died yesterday," said Ms Dalia Sadaka, as she accompanied a group of sightseers.

"I completely broke down yesterday, but I had to get to work in the morning," she said, pointing to her visibly swollen eyes.

Earlier, hit hard by a string of bloody attacks and unrest, visitor numbers to Egypt had more recently staged a partial recovery.

In October 2015, a bomb claimed by a local affiliate of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group killed all 224 people on board a passenger jet with Russian tourists flying over the Sinai Peninsula.

That incident dealt a severe blow to Egypt's tourism industry, which was still reeling from the turmoil set off by the 2011 uprising that forced veteran leader Hosni Mubarak from power.

Egypt's official statistics agency says arrivals reached 8.2 million last year, up from 5.3 million the year before. But that figure was still far short of the record influx in 2010, when over 14 million came.

"I fear yesterday's incident may have an impact on our source of income," said an elderly man who offers camel rides, declining to give his name.

"It is very regrettable," he said. "We were finally happy that tourism started picking up a bit."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 31, 2018, with the headline 'Hanoi urges quick action by Cairo over tour bus bombing'. Print Edition | Subscribe